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West 2013 Coverage

Sequestration Budget Crisis Could Have Been Mitigated

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The catastrophic budget cuts facing the U.S. Defense Department will be worse than need be because leading administration officials did not seem to believe they actually would come to pass, according to some experts on a panel at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. As a result, more thoughtful solutions to the budget crisis must give way to rapid and severe reductions over a short period of time.

Kori Schake, a research fellow with the Hoover Institution, pulled no punches in her depiction of the run-up to the sequestration. Commenting on the panel theme, which referred to a ticking budget clock, she said, “If the clock is ticking, then the bomb is about to go off.”

Declaring that the Defense Department has been in denial for months about the sequestration taking place, she stated that administration officials made a set of choices that has aggravated it. Their choices in the recently published defense strategy are “unexecutable,” she said. The Defense Department should develop a budget across the coming decade that would buy time to realize savings and cost reductions over that period—not all at once, which is what the department is facing now.

Ronald O’Rourke, a specialist in naval affairs with the Congressional Research Service, pointed out that what makes the looming sequestration cuts so difficult is their abruptness. The defense budget faces an immediate 8-9 percent reduction five months into a fiscal year. Accordingly, the effect is greater because those cuts must be enacted over just seven months.

Industry Must Do Its Share in Defense Budget Crisis

January 29, 2013

Industry is a key player in the Defense Department’s effort to adjust to harsh budget cuts, according to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., USN, told members of industry how vital their firms are and how they must meet some key criteria to continue to do business with the department.

Speaking to a packed house at the morning keynote address at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego, Adm. Winnefeld said that “industry is part of our total force.” Accordingly, it must help the department discover and apply innovative solutions to do more with less.

Adm. Winnefeld warned industry that it must work responsibly, however. He cited security as one area in which the private sector must meet obligations. “Industry must protect its systems against exfiltration,” he declared, adding, “We will stop working with people that don’t.”

National Security Needs Must Drive Defense Budget Process

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Experts have given lip service to building the force around national security priorities. But now, budgetary pressures require that those priorities are applied to the new lean military.

Innovation May Be Key to Military Surviving Draconian Budget Cuts

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The key to doing more with less may lie with innovative thinking applied to existing assets, suggested the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., USN, speaking to a packed house for the morning keynote address at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego, said that both the military and industry must be innovative in their approach to readiness.

Adm. Winnefeld cited examples of how innovative applications could enhance existing assets. He mentioned how the littoral combat ship could be adapted for use in missions beyond those for which it originally was designed. The admiral also called for inexpensive, highly adaptive electronics pods for unmanned aerial vehicles.

He singled out industry as a potential source of vital innovation, and he called on the private sector to produce these solutions.

“Bring it on; I want to hear it,” the admiral said.


Budget Crisis “a Wolf” That Threatens National Security

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Sequestration is “a wolf in the fold” that will force potentially catastrophic cuts to the U.S. military, crippling its ability to defend U.S. and allied interests around the globe. This gloomy assessment comes not from a politician or industrialist, but from the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


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